A group of researchers at Georgia State University in the U.S. experimented on mice to find that common additives used in processed foods can promote anxiety-related behaviors.
Additives are generally added to food to preserve or improve texture or simply extend the shelf life of the food product. It is extensively used by various food companies in order to increase the longevity of the product. However, a study found that consumption of additives or preservative can cause increased level of anxiety. The findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports in February 2019.
The researchers demonstrated that sex differences in the mice's behavioral patterns, suggesting that emulsifiers affect the brain via distinct mechanisms in males and females. The team observed that inflammation triggers local immune cells to produce signaling molecules that can affect tissues in other places, including the brain.
Geert de Vries, a professor at Georgia State University and lead researcher of the study, said: â€œThe gut also contains branches of the vagus nerve, which forms a direct information pathway to the brain. As a result of adding emulsifiers to the diet will have different consequences for the microbiota of males and females. Our data suggest that these sex-specific changes to the microbiota could contribute to the sex differences in behavior.â€
Previously, the researchers had found that low-grade intestinal inflammation is caused due to emulsifiers, which alter the population of gut microbiota. Their research has linked emulsifier consumption to obesity, metabolic syndrome, and inflammatory bowel diseases such as colitis, conditions whose incidence has significantly increased since the mid-20th century.
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